30 August 2009

Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons: Day 2:Part One – The Approach

So, we left Bozeman at 7AM to make the drive to Yellowstone – 88 miles.

We had decided to enter the park at the West entrance – via West Yellowstone, Montana -- and, efficient drivers that we typically are (or, “fast drivers” if you prefer), we expected to easily breeze into the park by 8:30AM. Although the trip did come off without a hitch, we got into the park around 9:15 – mostly because of construction, slow trucks, and the infamous supreme delay familiar to all parents of toddlers – the massive poopy diaper that stinks up the entire car. But, in this case, it was well-timed, because we pulled off in Big Sky, Montana . . .

and got to go hang out by this little river in the Gallatin Mountain range . . .

By approaching the park going south from Bozeman on 191 and entering through the West Entrance, we actually got to have some very good photo ops with the Welcome Sign:

See next post for our first day in Yellowstone . . .

29 August 2009

Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons: Day 1 – Our Travel Day

We left the house, in the dark, at 5AM to make it on a 7:15AM flight to Chicago. We changed planes and flew into Bozeman, Montana, arriving at noon, Mountain Time. Bozeman has a tiny airport (no more than six gates), but, it was efficient and convenient. Our first impressions of Bozeman were that it was a lot hotter than we had anticipated (87 degrees), and that it was really flat and dry.

Here is the obligatory plane pic:

Brooke and I had originally thought about trying to get to Yellowstone on this first day, but, we decided it would be better to take the time to orient ourselves and shop for groceries, get a good night’s rest, and start off early the next morning for the park. This turned out to be a very good plan of attack.

So, we went into downtown Bozeman (all seven blocks of it) and had lunch at a place called Burger Bob’s, which was straight out of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Seriously. Brooke and I both had the Cowboy Bob burger – sizzling hot burger with barbecue sauce, cheddar cheese, bacon, ice cold tomato and ice cold lettuce. It was so good. And, as most of you know, I am not one to give out kudos on burgers to just anyone. It was definitely the best burger we have both had in a very long time.

We stopped at the Chamber of Commerce to load up on about three inches worth of pamphlets, brochures, booklets, maps, and magazines. Yeah – we’re like that. While we were there, Brooke asked about what kinds of active diversions Bozeman had for children. The host blithely rattled off the three museums in town. When you have had your four-year-old and two-year-old up since 4:30AM and in airports or on planes for nine hours, the last thing you want to do is to drag them to a museum. You want to run their little bodies ragged so that they are as physically exhausted as the rest of them is.

So, Brooke asked about parks. The host mentioned a “Dinosaur Park”, which Drew overheard, so, off we went to the Dinosaur Park, because there was no way we were going to have any peace unless we went. It was actually very pleasant, and did exactly what we wanted – allowed the boys to run themselves ragged. It was kind of cool to be in a playground with mountains all around, except that it was ridiculously hot (and we are used to hot).

After our momentous travel day, we ate dinner at the hotel (the Bozeman Residence Inn by Marriott) – which consisted of food Mommy purchased at the Bozeman SuperWalmart. The boys were in bed by 6:30 Mountain Time, and Brooke literally passed out on the couch at 8:05PM.

02 July 2008

The Big Read

The Big Read is an NEA program designed to encourage community reading initiatives.

They've come up with this list of the top 100 books, using criteria they don't explain, and they estimate that the average adult has only read 6 of these. (I have actually read a full 50 of these books!)

So, we are encouraged to:

1) Look at the list and bold those we have read.
2) Italicize those we intend to read.
3) Underline the books we LOVE (Since Blogger won't let me underline, I've turned these pink)
4) Reprint this list in our own blogs.

Here goes...What about you?

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma - Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte's Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

19 June 2008

Business Travel

So, I have to travel all the way across the country next week for my job. I have been preparing for this trip for quite a while -- from the meetings I need to schedule, to the details of the trip itself, to keeping my emotions in check about being away from my babies. Or so I thought.

I have meetings scheduled, but, having never been to this location before, I have no idea where to go, what to do, and how to get access. Additionally, after much hemming and hawing, I am going to come back a day earlier than originally planned, but, I still need to make that change.

But, most importantly, it hit me tonight that I am going to be away from both boys and Brooke for FOUR nights! Ack! I almost started crying tonight when I thought about it. :-(

I have not been by myself for this long -- no Brooke, no children -- in, ummmmm, hmmm -- at least four years. (Oddly, that last trip was to the same general locale.)

Maybe (after the first night) I will just catch up on sleep and not miss my babies. I say after the first night because, try as I may, I never sleep well the first night I am away from Brooke. The second night I am so tired from not sleeping the first night that I just pass out. But, that first night is a doozy.

And, now I have officially crossed into overthinking . . .

14 June 2008

Ode to My Husband, the Stay-At-Home Dad, on Father's Day

In honor of Father's Day, I just wanted to document in my blog the great things about Brooke being a stay-at-home dad:

1. By staying at home, Brooke allows me to really focus on my career without feeling like I am short-changing my children. I can shoot for the stars and know that he will be there to give our boys the love and care they deserve.

2. Brooke keeps me grounded and helps me remember that, as exciting as professional opportunities can be, the joy of children is fleeting in comparison.

3. He is willing to be a stay-at-home dad even in the South, of all places. Let me just say that it is NOT the norm down here.

4. He loves our boys with a passion. I think about how many children grow up without really knowing their fathers, and I am just so happy that our boys will know their Daddy very, very well. And, as mentioned above, Brooke will make sure that they know me very, very well.

5. He is happy for me doing -- well, at least not poorly (I could always be at a higher position!) -- in my career. There is no sense of competition, no sense of regret or envy. He is truly supportive and happy for me.

6. He drives a mini-van -- it's an Odyssey (which is the stay-at-home dad's vehicle of choice, btw) and is proud of it.

7. He is still just as much of a guy as anyone that I come into contact with at work -- he is still the guy's guy, up on sports, and ready to engage in the all of those manly sports and activities (i.e., golf, fishing, boating, etc.).

8. He loves me, for all of my faults and shortcomings, in spite of my neuroses and need for him to love me. He loves me.

9. My boys adore him and have incredibly wonderful self-confidence.

Okay, if I keep going I might get mushy or something, so I am going to stop.

Happy Father's Day.

07 June 2008

Updates on cuteness

Okay, so, Baby Heath (yes, that's still what we call him, poor thing) is now 10 1/2 months old. He is a bruiser, just like his brother always was, and instead of a head of gorgeous, abundant curls, Mr. Heath Bar Crunch is still rather scanty in the hair department. He is crawling all over the place and has begun cruising too. He now cries when Drew plays outside and Heath is stuck in the stroller -- he wants to run and play too! And, just this morning, he wreaked his first bit of havoc on the house by literally ripping the electrical socket wall plate off the wall in his quest to chew on the electrical cord of my laptop. (Don't worry, I was right there.) If possible, he is proving to be more stubborn than Drew Caleb. But, when he not being stubborn, he has the sunniest personality. One of his adorable quirks is to grab a piece of paper or a raisin or other inappropriately too small piece of edible or inedible anything, stick it in his mouth and suck on it for HOURS. Brooke is much more adept at retrieving said items from his mouth than me -- I tend to just watch Heath think it is the greatest thing in the world to have something he is not supposed to in his mouth.

And, then, there is the Drew update. We had a major break-through last week -- he made it through an entire day at school in his underwear! So much for potty-training before age 3 (he turned 3 last month) and so much for it "just clicking" one day. The process has been gradually painful with all sorts of setbacks and complete regressions. Girls, I understand, are much better. (Duh.)

But, I am amused to report that Drew has quite the imagination. He tells us all sorts of stories about various animals that have chased him or bitten him or played with him. For a while, it was deer (we see them regularly in our backyard), then it was crocodiles, and now he alternates between alligators and bears.

Drew: Mommy! The alligator bit me!
Mommy: He did! That bad alligator -- show me where . . .
Drew: Right here -- Mommy kisses it.
Mommy: >>kiss<< Is that better?
Drew: Yeah. Alligator needs to go to time-out, he was a bad boy.
Mommy: That's right. Where's the alligator?
Drew: Over there.
Mommy: Alligator!? Go to time out, now!
Drew: >>giggling<<

Drew also comes up with silly non-word terms and thinks it is hysterical for Mommy and Daddy to use them. His favorite non-word is "gau gau" -- as in, "That's a gau gau banana -- I don't want to eat it!" How cute is that!

I have to say that I always wondered what it would be like to have a conversation with Drew, and now that I do have conversations with him and he shows me how rich his imagination is and how good a sense of humor he has, I am completely enthralled. Of course, I AM his Mommy, so, perhaps that has something to do with it.